After years of numerous delays and development expenses that reached billions, Mitsubishi is planning to discontinue the SpaceJet aircraft research program.
The Japanese company is expected to make the announcement as soon as February 7, 2023, according to reports in Nikkei Asia. After Mitsubishi paused the regional aircraft’s development in October 2020, work would continue on obtaining its Type Certificate (TC), which is when the decision to finally cancel would be made.
Mitsubishi would also shut down Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation, the subsidiary in charge of creating the SpaceJet.
However, the 2008-first-announced program never managed to secure the TC for the two kinds, a smaller (MRJ70) and larger (MRJ90) aircraft that would accommodate between 70 and 80 and between 86 and 96 passengers in a two-class layout. When Mitsubishi first unveiled the SpaceJet, it intended for it to go into operation in 2013.
The Japanese conglomerate has already spent over $1 trillion ($7.5 billion) in total. As more and more of the company’s cash reserves were going toward the failing SpaceJet development program, Mitsubishi’s decision to halt development was made to save 120 billion yen ($906 million).
The biggest obstacle to the program was that American airlines and pilot unions refused to loosen the scope clause regulations, which would have permitted the MRJ70 and/or MRJ90 to be used as regional aircraft in the US.
When a US regional airline, Trans States Airlines, canceled an order for 50 M90s, Hisakazu Mizutani, then president of Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation, said that when the two parties signed the contract, “the outlook on the regional market was significantly different.”
“Scope clause has not been more lenient as expected. Since then, in collaboration with our airline clients, we have changed our approach to better respond to the market realities in the United States,” Mizutani stated in October 2019.